Six Steps Towards Self Learning Teams and Organizations
One of the 12 principles behind the Manifesto for Agile Software Develop is: At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.
This adjustment of behavior can take many forms: from stopping a practice that is not fruitful to simply doing more or less of something already in the system. And sometimes it means starting something new, an experiment to test a falsifiable hypothesis, for example: if we always had a minimum of a dozen donuts in the team room….
Regardless of what changes, it is up to a team that embraces agility to figure things out themselves. No external “boss” is barking orders. So this 12th principle leads to the idea that a self-organizing team also needs to be a self-learning team. Join Andy to learn how to help teams embrace continual learning with joy.
Outline/Structure of the Tutorial
STEP ONE: BUILD AN INVENTORY (CURRENT AND FUTURE)
- What do you already know?
- What do you want to learn?
- What skills/competencies do you think the team needs to be most successful, now and in the foreseeable future…
To help keep things somewhat organized, as well as to jump start folk’s thinking, I suggest setting up three buckets to collect information:
- Languages / Technologies (e.g.: Cucumber, Java, Go, Python, IDE’s, Docker, Chef )
- Processes / Practices (e.g.: TDD, pair programming, Scrum) (Design Patterns, UX, Agile)
- Soft Skills (e.g.: creativity, communication, public speaking, mentoring, coaching, facilitating, networking)
STEP TWO: BUILD A TEAM LEVEL MATRIX
Have individual indicate their current level of knowledge as well as their “future vision” using these indicators:
- Apprentice (heard of it, dabbled once or twice)
- Journeyman (can do it)
- Master (can teach it)
And then have the team add one more bit of information the matrix: the priority of each line item to the team based on what’s on their product roadmap, as well as in their technical drag backlog.
STEP THREE: CREATE PRIORITIES AND FLOW FOR SELF LEARNING TEAMS
Using the prioritized matrix, the team identifies any gaps in their bench strength, and from that develops a plan to close those gaps. Perhaps distill things down to a prioritized kanban.
STEP FOUR: GET YOUR GUILDS GOING
Got more than a team or two? Awesome, now there’s an opportunity for another scale of learning: enterprise level. This sharing of knowledge, skills, and capabilities goes by many names:
- Special Interest Groups (SIGs)
- Centers of Excellence (CoE)
- Communities of Practice (CoP)
- Birds of a Feather (CoF)
STEP FIVE: MEASURE
How can you tell if these experiments have aligned things with the strategic goals of the organization? How can one tell if anything has improved? Simple: Measure…
There are many ways to measure the outcomes of the experiments explored in this post, from individual, to team, to enterprise learning. Some starting points could be:
- Happiness and engagement
- Employee retention
- Quality of value delivered
STEP SIX: MAKE SELF LEARNING TEAMS VISIBLE
Visibility and transparency at all levels – individual, team, and organization – will do many things:
- Enable collaboration across boundaries
- Build momentum
- Drive interest
- Enable constraints
- Knowledge sharing, lean coffee, open space are all wonderful ways to start.
Take-away from this presentation a six-step framework that will propel your teams and organization on a path of self-learning and growth:
- How to build an inventory of skills to sustain high performance
- How to visualize the current and future states of the team skill set
- How to prioritize "the learning backlog" and create conditions conducive to self-learning
- Building learning communities at scale
- How to measure outcomes of this experiment, to inspect and adapt the changing needs of the team and the organization
- How to making it all visible and amplify a culture of organizational learning
Team Leads, Managers, Coaches, Scrum Masters
Prerequisites for Attendees